Yesterday Christians around the world participated in traditional Ash Wednesday services, signifying the beginning of the Lenten season. Wondering if you were the recipient of ashes on your forehead? Such a somber, mystical, and beautiful experience. I love the symbolism and how it speaks so personally about the need for dying to self, confession, and repentance.
Just a few days earlier, our guest preacher challenged our community to embrace tradition as a way of growing together in God’s grace (my paraphrase, apologies to the speaker). His message was quite inspirational. I sensed the congregation considering how we would move forward, together. Certainly a serious engagement with the classic Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, and service would not only impact us intra-personally, but interpersonally as well.
Presbyterian pastor, Mark Roberts, echoes my sentiments in his patheos.com blog post, Pastor Roberts speaks fondly of his years in pastoral ministry, watching his flock come together to receive the ashes. He reflects: “What I value most about Ash Wednesday worship services is the chance for us all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections.” (italics, mine)
Startling. Authentic. Christian community.
As the imposition of ashes remind us of our imperfections, could they also serve as a reminder not to impose perfection upon others?
Systemically speaking, we know when one part of the system is changed, the entire system is affected. Observing Lent not only has the capabilities for individual change, but transforming the community in which we live. Hope abounds!
Roberts concluded: “The emotional result of Ash Wednesday observance isn’t depression or gloom, but gratitude and new energy for living. When we realize how desperately we need God, and how God is faithful far beyond our desperation, we can’t help but offering our lives to him in fresh gratitude.”
Rejoice, Lent is Upon Us!
Read Pastor Roberts’ complete post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/ash-wednesday-practice-and-meaning/#ixzz3SDEhHfFO